Category: what the song means to me

friendship: it’s what I give.

Women don’t need to learn how to build a shelf or organize a closet. They need friendship.

my new friend Tishala

It is amazing to me sitting here tonight how puzzle pieces come together.

My personal and professional and ministerial (what a word) yearnings seem to be finally lining up, and they go something like this:

Love people. Reach out to people. Serve people. Let people fill you up. And then do it again.

yourfriendFor the last week, I have been visited by friends, you know the kind – the ones who are really family- who know me so well that they can fill me up with a few words, a look, a anecdote, a hug for my babies, a bag of Doritos, a 30 minute walk. I spent the last week getting my “love tank” filled, almost effortlessly. There were simple group dinners and leisurely talks oceanside and one night that will live in infamy when my girls were allowed to get in the hottub, past bedtime, in their clothes, because they wanted some extra minutes of fun with Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Liz. I live off those moments. I savor them.

Because you know, we spend so much of the rest of our lives in the trenches. We spend so much time trying to Figure It Out, Do The Right Things, Be The Best –

“The more I try to be the best, the more I get the worst.” – Amy Grant

– that sometimes, we wear ourselves out trying and never accomplish anything.

Well, you might say – I know I say it – God didn’t give me this skill/talent/gift/motivation to just sit here. I’m supposed to be doing something. How can I change the world if I am just sitting here, folding laundry? How can my voice be heard if I’m just singing in the shower? How can God speak through me if the only thing I ever say is “JUST A MINUTE! Mommy’s hands are FULL!” ?

So we try harder. We pack our schedules. We Pin good ideas and implement a few. We research. (aka “Google stuff”). We discuss. We blog. We comment on other blogs. And we try.

I am not here to tell you to stop trying. I won’t. But what I am saying is, just for a minute: pause.

Do you see it?

Do you hear it?

“It” is what God has for you right now.

For me, today, it was a few very specific women… a few praying in the altar, a few scattered around the sanctuary, a few in seats just feet away. I had nothing profound to offer them. I am not a prophetess, a deaconess, a pastor, or any other Title of Distinction. I don’t pray like a good old saint, and as good as I can be with words some times, emotions often render me tongue-tied.

I am a mom, a wife, a battle-scared girl with a somewhat colorful past. I am an idealist but also a cynic. I do not trust anyone, but I love everyone. I am braver than I’ve ever been, but still afraid of a lot of things. I am a wordsmith… I observe, I read, I write… but none of that is what I have to offer any of the hurting people around me.

I have love. Arms. Tears. Smiles. Friendship. A desire to connect. A desire to know, and to be known. A desire to see, and to be seen. A desire to share what God has done for me, and also to share my latest pop culture obsession (ABC’s Scandal) and gluten-free bread recipe. A kitchen that will always at least have coffee and tea and chairs and a welcome mat. That is what I have to give. That is what I will not run out of. That will not make me tired. That does not involve a formal description, a meeting, a committee, a project plan, a Facebook page, a marketing plan, a weekly report, a group of investors, a hashtag, a logo, or any angst, fear of rejection, suffering by comparison, or even possible failure.

nofearinloveIf I give friendship and get nothing in return, so what? The gift is already mine to give.

Lord, forgive me for spinning my wheels trying to come up with a plan. Forgive me for putting my offering in a box or letting anyone else tell me what it should be. Thank You for opening my eyes to what already is and not just what “could have” been or what “might be.” Help me to love as You do:

the potential-friend sitting alone
the potential-friend whose husband is mean
the potential-friend who lost a child
the potential-friend paralyzed by fear of losing her child
the potential-friend who never feels good enough
the potential-friend who will never love me back
the potential-friend I will never see again
the potential-friend who is way prettier, skinnier, and seemingly better than I am
the potential-friend my other friends won’t like
the potential-friend who won’t accept it
the potential-friend who will abuse it
the potential-friend who will change my life, for better or worse.

I have been blessed with friendship – ones near and far, some who fill me, some who challenge me, some who seem to forget about me but then come back around. I am blessed. I have nothing to lose by loving big. It is what God called me to do from the very beginning.

Ask, “Is the juice worth the squeeze here?” and sometimes it is. – Jen Hatmaker

When the juice involves loving another human being in her need, it will always, always be worth it.

for levity’s sake:

built for rain

This song came to us earlier this year, via our Illinois pastor, at a time when we needed to hear its promise.

Since that time, it has become the springboard for our daily faith, for encouragement to others, and for an unravelling metaphor for a life of waiting on rain while building an arc or a barn or…

Rod had an opportunity to share it at a new church this past weekend. I love the conviction with which he delivers it as much as I love the song itself. It was written by Tim Hill and this arrangement was done by our friend Jeff Duffield. This was recorded at Union Hill Baptist Church in Marion, SC.

when angsty love songs apply to other stuff

In spite of my own tendency to make fun of emo/basket-weaving songs, I do love a good ditty full of romantic angst.

However, being that I’m in a happy marriage, they don’t really apply…
…except when they capture my soul in their applicableness (uh-huh) to other aspects of life:

–my kids growing up and away
–navigating newness in career, relationships, my own abilities and lack thereof
–the hope of success and sometimes, the seeming-promise of failure
–my incessant need to be liked
–my old life’s world moving on without me
–my new life’s world moving craziliy about without consulting me

Anyway. I am accepting that my eyes need to be looking forward, and upward, and not necessarily where they lazily, comfortingly fall (on shortcomings, short-term, short…stuff).

But I still take superficial comfort in the angsty love songs.

Scratch, Kendall Payne
It’s a big girl world now
Full of big guy things
And every day I wish I was small
I’ve been counting on nothing
But he keeps giving me his word
And I am tired of hearing myself speak

Do you ever get weary?
Do you ever get weak?
How do you dream
When you can’t fall asleep?

I’ve been wondering what you’re thinking
And if you like my dress tonight?
Would you still say you love me
Under this ordinary moonlight?
I’m so afraid of what you’ll say.

I’d like to know if you’d be open
To starting over from scratch
I’d like to know if you’d be open
To giving me a second chance

I used to think I was special
And only I have proved me wrong
I thought I could change
The world with a song
But I have ended up in India
With no lamp to guide me home.
The strangest place I think
I have ever been
And all this time
I thought that we were friends
My stubborn will is learning to bend.

I’d like to know if you’d be open
To starting over from scratch
I’d like to know if you’d be open
To giving me a second chance

A new song

Disclaimer: KK’s music trumps ALL.

Probably needless to say, all I have listened to for the past four years is southern gospel music, little kid music, and old standby music that is like comfort food for my soul…oh, and Christmas music for about two months out of every year. (which is why my current list is a bit over the top with Bing Crosby carols…)

Top 25 on my iTunes:Elmo’s Song ~ Elmo, Big Bird and Snuffleupagus
K-K-K-Katy ~ Billy Murray
Jingle Bells ~ Bing Crosby
Do-Re-Mi ~ Various Artists
Miranda (Was Born in a Barn) ~ Dan Crow
Once Upon A Dream (Sleeping Beauty) ~ Mary Costa & Bill Shirley
Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town ~ Bing Crosby
Mele Kalikimaka ~ Bing Crosby
Once Upon a Dream ~ Emily Osment
Silver Bells ~ Bing Crosby
White Christmas ~ Bing Crosby
I’ll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams) ~ Bing Crosby
K-K-K Katy ~ The Blazers & Bob Wilson & His Varsity Rhythm Boys
Christmas In Killarney ~ Bing Crosby
Too Legit to Quit ~ MC Hammer
Maria ~ Various Artists
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Mary Poppins) ~ Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke w/The Pearlie Chorus
The Lonely Goatherd ~ Various Artists
Adeste Fideles ~ Bing Crosby
Faith Of Our Fathers ~ Bing Crosby
It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas ~ Bing Crosby
Lord Of the Dance ~ Jay Stone Singers
Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day ~ Celine Dion
The Magic Of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone) ~ Celine Dion
Put on a Crown ~ Rod Burton

I make no apologies for MC Hammer.

Anyway, for professional and personal reasons, I am trying to listen to more contemporary Christian music these days. A lot of what I hear escapes me as ho-hum or just completely narcissistic (Jesus, please me! Jesus, pay attention to me in my angst and drama! And don’t get me started about heaven meeting earth like a wet sloppy kiss…)

But yesterday, driving home from the grocery store, I heard a song that stopped me. You have probably heard it before, because I am so behind the times: Heather Williams, “Hallelujah.”

I’ve gone and listened to Heather’s testimony, and I can’t say I have been where she has: a childhood of extreme abuse and poverty, her baby lost when he was six months old. But the desperation in her song struck a chord with me… it’s where I spent my late teens and half of my twenties, and it’s a place that is all too easy to return to if I lose sight of my goals and God’s promises:

Jesus, please come, please come today
Break me, mold me , use me I pray
But don’t give up on me now,
I’m so close to you now,
I’m in need of your grace today.
Wipe the dirt off my face,
hold me in your embrace,
Your love always saves the day.

(Hear it here).

I will be listening to more of Heather…and more of other new songs. I will likely always return to Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, Oak Ridge Boys, Amy Grant, hair bands, 90s angst, bubble gum hip-hop, showtunes, Disney tunes, 60s rock and roll, and some of those lovely gospel harmonies I have come to love. But I love a new song, so I’ll keep listening closely.

{ Got any recs? }

What changed everything

Sometimes there is a wonderful little note of serendipity in my life. This week, as I struggled to write an article with a looming deadline, I was asked to speak about the meaning of Christmas at an event this weekend. And this song, the title of which appears on my Facebook to describe how I feel about my whole life, ran through my head.

My babies changed everything, everything for me.

But long before that, another baby did:

Happy Advent.

Also: Faith Hill is so stinking beautiful.